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Flushing, NY man sentenced for conspiracy related to multi-state prostitution business


BUFFALO, N.Y. - U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy, Jr. announced today that Cheng Qi Li, 29, of Flushing, NY, who was convicted of conspiracy to use interstate facilities to promote prostitution and to transport individuals in interstate commerce with intent that such individuals would engage in prostitution, was sentenced to serve 21 months in prison by U.S. District Judge Lawrence J. Vilardo.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Elizabeth R. Moellering, who handled the case, stated that the defendant was part of a multi-state prostitution business that sent female victims to cities and states across the Eastern United States to engage in commercial sex acts. As part of that business, Li and others posted advertisements on Backpage.com to set up meetings between clients and prostitutes in Tonawanda, NY and other cities and states. Co-defendant LiangLiang Guo acted as a driver for the prostitution business, driving the females to hotels where they would engage in commercial sex acts. Guo also collected the proceeds of the illicit prostitution business. Li assisted in the running of the business by posting the advertisements, arranging for the travel of the females, and receiving the money that represented was the profits of commercial sex acts.

The head of the organization was co-defendant Feng Yang Chen, who recruited the female victims and brought them over from China to serve as prostitutes in the United States. Chen’s organization spanned numerous states across the Eastern coastline and mid-west. Chen organized the operation, posted the advertisements online on Backpage.com, and collected the proceeds of the illegal sex acts. The female victims felt trapped and feared for their safety. Feng Yang Chen and LiangLiang Guo were previously convicted and are awaiting sentencing.

Today’s sentencing is the result of an investigation by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security Investigations, under the direction of Special Agent-in-Charge Kevin Kelly; the Tonawanda Police Department, under the direction of Chief Jerome C. Uschold III; the New York Police Department, under the direction of Chief James P. O’Neill; the South Portland, Maine Police Department, under the direction of Chief Edward Googins; and  the Fairview Township Police Department, under the direction of Chief Jason C. Loper.

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